This Friday, President Trump will become the first sitting U.S. president to address a hate group.
Trump is scheduled to speak for an event hosted by the Family Research Council, an anti-gay activist group intent on stripping rights away from homosexuals. The Christian extremist group often uses “discredited research and junk science” to campaign against same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, LGBTQ adoption, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, pornography and divorce.
The host of the event has said “Homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.” One of the group’s leaders has been quoted as advocating for “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”
“Values voters have waited eight years for a leader who puts America’s mission first and respects the values that made America into a great nation,” crowed Tony Perkins, president of the hate group.
The group’s extremist activism, as well as its tendency to invite white supremacists to its gatherings, have led the Southern Poverty Law center to classify them as a hate group.
“By appearing at the Values Voter Summit, President Trump is lending the legitimacy of his office to a hate group that relentlessly demonizes LGBT people and works to deny them of their equal rights,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The Independent.
“His appearance puts the lie to his campaign promise to be a friend to the LGBTQ community. Bigotry is not an American value, and our president should speak out against it.”
Trump has addressed the event three times, including as the Republican presidential candidate last year. Trump is famously popular among bigoted circles, having famously began his presidential bid with a slur against Mexican immigrants. He also was quick to defend some of the violent white supremacists attending the Charlottesville rally as “good people,” then passionately raged against NFL players protesting police brutality.
Trump’s administration has been aggressive about stripping rights away from LGBTQ Americans, particularly transgender people. In less than ten months, the Trump administration have stripped protections for transgender students in public schools, reinstated a ban on transgender people serving in the military, and empowered employers to discriminate against transgender people. On Trump’s inauguration day, all mention of LGBTQ people and those living with HIV was immediately scrubbed from whitehouse.gov.